Boy's animated odyssey has lots of action, suspense, scares.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hero Quest, a Russian-made animated movie adapted for English-speaking audiences, has lots of cartoon action, suspense, warfare, and a young boy in frequent danger. Some of the "scary" creatures are comic; however, young or super-sensitive kids could find them frightening. Fang-bearing hyenas cackle, a dragon swoops, tribesmen wield arrows and capture our heroes. Other villains include a witch, masked warriors, and an army of vicious monkeys. The story focuses on a forest legend in which the white wolves who protected the human villagers have disappeared and the land is threatened. Savva, the young hero, sets off on a quest to bring the wolves back and save his family. It's a complex, multifaceted plot filled with magical transformations, twists and turns, hard-fought battles, and a long list of both heroes and villainous armies. Only for kids who are truly comfortable with real vs. imaginary violence.
Deep messages but very fun
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What's the Story?
As the legend goes in HERO QUEST, it wasn't long ago that young Savva's village and the forest that surrounds it were protected from harm by steadfast white wolves. Sadly, one day the beautiful animals disappeared, leaving the village vulnerable to an army of evil monkeys led by a three-headed queen (Whoopi Goldberg) and her evil hyena henchmen. As the story opens, the villagers' worst fears come true. The hyenas attack and imprison the people, planning to make them slaves for the monkeys. Only Savva (voiced by Milla Jovovich) escapes. The boy's best chance to save his family is to make his way to the top of a distant mountain to find the fabled magician, whom he believes can bring the wolves back to free his people from their captors. Savva's journey is a perilous one, filled with treacherous confrontations and evil villains, but in the company of a lone white wolf (Will Chase) and a crew of bizarre, often comical characters whom he meets along the way, the brave young boy may turn out be the hero for whom his forest friends have long been waiting.
Is It Any Good?
Eccentric and funny characters, outlandish adversaries, and a boy's righteous quest are nearly undone by too many obstacles and too many enemies. The cast of players would be enough to populate two, maybe even three perilous journeys. There are evil hyenas, a witch, monkeys, a dragon, an army of masked warriors, jungle tribesmen -- and those are just the villains. Plus there are enough transformations, crises of identity, and flashbacks to muddy a story that might best be served by some simplicity. The animation is OK -- it's bright and spirited, supported by a solid musical score. That's not a surprise since the entire project is the brainchild of Max Fadeev, one of Russia's most formidable composer-musicians. Not for kids who aren't comfortable with lots of cartoon action, suspense, and scares.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the surprises in this movie. List some of them (i.e., the wolf's true identity, the magician). Why is it fun to be surprised as a story unfolds? How is it sometimes unsatisfying when a movie is predictable?
Some key elements in a "quest" movie are: a hero embarking upon a journey to accomplish something important; significant obstacles that stand in his or her way; and the characters the hero encounters who often join forces with him or her. Create (draw or write about) a hero, and give that hero a quest. What are some obstacles that will be encountered? Whom does the hero meet along the way?
This movie is packed with heroes and villains. Was the sheer number of them confusing to you? When it comes to new characters and new situations, how much is too much?
- On DVD or streaming: March 29, 2016
- Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sharon Stone, Whoopi Goldberg
- Director: Max Fadeev
- Studio: Cinedigm
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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